August 1999 News

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As LoC stays tense, migrants keep away

6 August 1999
The Indian Express
By: Prashant Sood

KHOUR(JAMMU): Though the Kargil conflict is over, there is no let up in the tense situation along the Line of Control (LoC) in the Jammu region. Pakistan firing and shelling continues intermittently and the human suffering triggered by mass migration is unabated.

On Wednesday night, about 40 shells rained at Pallanwalla, about 50 km from here, injuring two soldiers and further eroding any hope that the migrants may have had of returning to their native places. "We will not go back till this firing stops" is the unanimous resolve of the migrants who lie clustered in government school buildings. Between five to seven families share a room in these schools and these are the lucky ones with a roof over their heads. Others migrants are scattered in the verandas and open spaces. And, the situation is only getting complicated by the day.

The government schools were due to open today but no classes were possible as the rooms are occupied. The migrants say they will not leave until the tension is diffused along the border or tents are given to them. "We had been assured of tents by the district authorities but so far, nothing has been done," rues Manga Ram, who is staying at a school in Domana.

There is a feeling of betrayal. "Home Minister Lal Krishan Advani promised to give Rs 2 crore to the migrants during his visit to Khour on June 20, but we have been left out", Gupta says, adding that not a single official from the state government had paid them a visit since they had been on strike. But the government's relative apathy seems to be based on the assumption that the people on strike are not as badly affected by shelling as others are.

The government has paid a relief of Rs 200 apart from seven kg atta and two kg rice to each adult migrant staying in various schools, but the least the migrants are insisting on is camps. Some of them even want to be permanently rehabilitated.

"Returning home under threat of firing is not possible. Till the time a solution is found or situation normalises, camps have to be set up", assert the migrants.

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